Here I sit, once more struggling with transparency, as with wonder, I reenter my annual read through of the Word! Now endowed with almost seven decades of life and forty plus years of scripture reads, I still find challenges as I sort through the filters of numerous pastors, a plethora of books and my rich life experiences!
What is the life learning, if any, that I will leave to those behind me?
I had not traveled far into this year’s read before I was dumbstruck! Hearing as it seemed for the first time, the deep agony in the voice of the Creator as he begs of a fallen Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?”
For some of my readers, this text no longer merits literal, biographical evidence of the plight of the first two human beings on earth. However you unpack scripture, my point is, the alignment of these stories with my own personal journey is to revealing to disregard.
In God’s comments to Adam, I hear the pain of a friend, even closer a father, who knows that something dreadfully unnecessary has happened to the one He loves. I have to think about a moment I shared with my Dad, the morning I revealed to him that my first marriage had just taken an irreconcilable hit! He took me to his own bedroom, the place so personal to him and my mom, almost sanctuary-like when entered as a child. He knew his 22 year old son was having one of those naked moments that life hands us all, and all too often!
The need for this post began several days ago, and until now I have said little about it. Yet, this morning as I moved on through the story of Abraham, I heard this same paternal dialogue repeated in the story of the testing on Mt. Moriah. Tradition attributes the writing of Genesis to Moses. From his point of view, this was a test of loyalty to a God that demanded sacrifices. I have to believe that in some way sin creates that demand, while our Creator weeps at times, though somehow sovereignly separated from full intervention? Still yet, through the Canon of Scripture, God has mysteriously and miraculously revealed His true nature in these stories recorded by broken men and women.
The story of Abraham is amazingly parallel with so many of us. We set out to fulfill the “calling of God” with hearts laden with promises, that at some point in time will seem impossible. Abraham like so many still devises means by which to accomplish these promises, all of which only compound his challenges. Abraham was well-intended in his decision to raise his nephew Lot after his brother Haran dies; ingenious in his attempts to protect his beautiful wife Sara when King Abimelech came around; not to speak of his stellar agreement to take Hagar as surrogate for the sake of offspring and certainly courageous in his commitment to offer his only son on Moriah!
“Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’”1 Perhaps his failed attempts at “serving God” had brought him to the point that such a request seemed reasonable? Many a radical, yes even in our day, has made this same mistake in the name of religion.
Let’s circle back to the words of this compassionate God in the garden, “Who told you that you were naked.” Something had so tarnished the conscience of Creation, that a redemptive journey would be necessary, such that “wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”2 The beloved Peter, and later John the Revelator, hints that God foreknew what would happen, even before Creation was birthed on this very globe, to which as the story goes, Satan had been banished. “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.”3 It causes one to wonder if the real drama is not occurring in the heavens, while those who chose to participate, though they suffer violence at times, are well guarded actors in some plot that proves the power of love!
So here we sit, naked, striving to please a God who two centuries ago showed up with His Gospel of Love!. His response to the most sinful was “Go and sin no more” and to the most religious, “you vile hypocrites!”
I’ll leave this post with a couple simple question: Was Moriah simply one more story, as God further unpacks His counter to the demands of sin ? Daily, he takes the heavy pile of dead wood, our works destroyed, and places them on the shoulders of His only Son, the Ram, caught in the thicket of our madness.
Was Moriah a test of Abraham’s loyalty? Moses called it that. The irony is that when the true sacrifice showed up in the only Son of God, unlike Abraham who recognized the Ram, we knowingly followed through with a crucifixion!
His response to our sin: a resurrection! Selah!
1 Genesis 22:2 NIV
2 Isaiah 35:8 KJV
3 I Pet 1:20 NLT